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Jeff Spevak

Jeff Spevak has been a Rochester arts reporter for nearly three decades, with seven first-place finishes in the Associated Press New York State Features Writing Awards while working for the Democrat and Chronicle. He has also been published in Musician and High Times magazines, contributed to WXXI, City newspaper and Post magazine, and occasionally performs spoken-word pieces around town. Some of his haikus written during the Rochester jazz festival were self-published in a book of sketches done by Scott Regan, the host of WRUR’s Open Tunings show. Spevak founded an award-winning barbecue team, The Smokin’ Dopes, and believes Bigfoot is real. His book on the life of a Lake Ontario sailor who survived the sinking of his ship during World War II will be published in April of 2019 by Lyons Press.

How did we get to the point that singing is considered to be a dangerous act?

That's where we are, in this era of COVID-19. Last week, the nation was reopening bars, restaurants, churches, music venues. Now, more than half the states in the country are pulling back from their premature announcements that the coronavirus pandemic is over, and life may now return to normal.

HomeStage: Hanna PK

Jul 1, 2020

The fact that Hanna PK is in Rochester shows the breadth of musical talent here. While known for blues, she's a singer-songwriter in a variety of genres. With a lot of us yearning for a return to a new 'normal', Hanna PK performs “Soyo Arirang," inspired by the old Korean folk tradition called Arirang.


"Miss Juneteenth" is one of the current virtual offerings at The Little Theatre, part of the Black Cinema Series. It's about a single mom, Turquoise Jones, a former Miss Juneteenth winner, preparing her rebellious teenage daughter to follow in her footsteps and compete in the pageant.

"One message is pride, one message is teaching history," Richard McCollough says.

As far as Fred Costello can see, two good things have emerged from The Summer of 2020.

"My home studio has never looked so clean," he says. "My dog gets a lot of walks."

Otherwise, "Honestly, I'm bored. Have you ever seen that movie 'Groundhog Day'? That's what life has become. I get up the same time every morning. I'm watching the same TV shows during the day. It's like, oh my God, I'm not a man of schedule. I mean, I'm always running, between the studio and gigs, the ballpark, you know."

HomeStage: Woody Dodge

Jun 12, 2020

Like most bands during quarantine, Woody Dodge hasn't been practicing together. But, that doesn't mean they're not staying busy. The group released a new album, and has been writing new songs, including this tune they're debuting on HomeStage, "Love in the Wilderness."

Gaelen McCormick's creative soul was saved by crochet.

"It was right around the time of the Women's March in DC," she says, "and, you remember how everyone was making pussy hats? And I thought, well, that doesn't look too hard, why don't I get some yarn and watch a YouTube video. And actually, that kind of saved me for months, learning how to crochet, and learning how to be creative in a way that really felt good, but didn't have to involve sound."

A couple of weeks ago, the actor Stanley Tucci went viral. He simply posted a brief video in which he demonstrates how he makes a Negroni cocktail. A double shot of gin, a shot of sweet vermouth, a shot of Campari. Shaken with ice, garnished with an orange, which he first squeezes into the glass as he advises, “Don’t let anyone see you handle it like that.”

Simple, yet elegant. Others may quibble. The late Anthony Bourdain suggested a 1:1:1 ratio on the booze, don’t bother shaking, and just drop in an orange wedge. It’s a big world; to each his own.

Black Out Tuesday

Jun 2, 2020

The murder of George Floyd has once again caused much of the nation to question the position of Black people in American society. Is that position to remain one of one more Black man, or Black woman, lying prone on a Staten Island street, as was the case with Eric Garner in 2014? Or Floyd on a Minneapolis street last week? Both pleading, “I can’t breathe?”

HomeStage: The Demos

May 28, 2020

Here's a little Q&A with Jason Milton from The Demos before the group performs "Meet at Night" for you on HomeStage. The group consists of Jason Milton, Caela Moore, Callan Saunders, Jeremiah O’Reilly, and Alex Durr.

Perhaps the vehicle to lead us out of the coronavirus pandemic will be our cars.

The car. In which we are hermetically sealed. Unless we roll down the windows, which is bound to happen as summer arrives. One thing COVID-19 cannot stop.

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